Leah Clapper loves the feeling of flipping and flying through the air. The senior competes on the balance beam for the No. 2 Florida Gymnastics squad. As part of the highest-averaging beam team in the nation, the 4-foot-11 inches gymnast posted a 9.975 this season– a score one deduction away from the aspired perfect 10, which she posted back in February 2021.
She also feels destined to be an entrepreneur.
Clapper dished that beyond competing for the roaring crowd at home meets, she has co-created a board game and has a second, secret website in the making. Further, she divulged how she feels about head coach Jenny Rowland. She detailed the relationships she shares with gymnasts on teams like No. 5 LSU, something perhaps unique to gymnastics.
Leah Clapper, the Entrepreneur
In creating a board game, Clapper said the games she used to play at her gymnastics gym growing up inspired her. Her former club gymnastics coach Claudia and she teamed up to create a board game called “Balance Palace.”
There are two versions of the game: one to play at home and one in the gym.
Clapper graduates with her Masters of Arts in Mass Communication from the UF College of Journalism and Communications Summer 2022. While she cheerfully admits she has no clue what she wants to do with her degree after college, she believes everything she’s learned in college is already helping her in her pursuits.
One thing she’s confident about is that she wants to build her own business. Though she doesn’t possess a clear path, Clapper said she has big dreams to travel, create and take the next adventure.
A student-athlete as the NCAA transitions into this new era of New, Image and Likeness rules, Clapper said she’s grateful for her positioning. It may be the Wild West right now as athletes embark on their first year, but she feels excited about everyone’s new opportunities.
She acknowledged that NIL can take away focus from sport; time management and additional stress can be challenges for student-athletes who already essentially work a full-time job. Clapper said the good thing is athletes choose whether to participate in the deals or not. That freedom to do so opens up so many opportunities.
At the end of the day, she is 100% in favor of college athletes getting to market themselves like basically everyone else in the world.
Clapper’s Secret Project
Clapper has a big project in the works. Though she has not yet released her website to the public, it will be under the URL: www.collegeathletesNIL.com.
The Life of a UF Gymnast
Young Leah did backward somersaults off the couch and walked around the tops kiddie pools. At one-and-a-half years old, her parents took note and enrolled her in a Parent-and-Tot class. Clapper never looked back.
Now in her fourth year at Florida, Clapper praised her leader Rowland for being a wonderful, understanding coach. Rowland’s focus on each athlete as an individual makes her so great.
Many Gator sports possess big rivals. Gator football experiences great animosity with rival Georgia, and Clapper says meets against biggest SEC-rival LSU never fail to be close and exciting.
During such meets, the Florida gymnasts are in fight mode, but afterward they reestablish friendship mode with girls they’ve grown up competing with during club and throughout colleges.
In gymnastics, Clapper said, it’s not that athletes wish for the other team to perform poorly. Instead, they to see their competitors brilliantly execute routines and for their own to be that dazzling, teeny bit better to win the meet– exactly what she desires as she flips on the beam again on Friday.
The meet, at No. 10 Kentucky, airs lives on the SEC Network at 6 p.m.